Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Righty or Lefty?

Posted by  //  October 9, 2022  //  Articles, Creature Feature

In this right-handed world, between 75-90% of us use our right hand to write, eat, throw, etc., but did you know that animals can also be righties or lefties?  Perhaps it’s not so surprising that many other primates use a preferred hand.  Most great apes, our closest primate relatives, are righties, including gorillas and chimpanzees.  On the other hand (wink), orangutans have a higher percentage of lefties. 

More surprising is the fact that most walruses, like humans, are righties, and even octopuses use a favourite tentacle (although the latter seems based on individual preference rather than a population-wide trait).  Researchers discovered that some mice are righties while others are literal “southpaws,” and that certain species of tree frogs preferentially jump in one direction or the other to escape predators.

Another fascinating example of right- and left-handedness was observed in blue whales as they fed on krill.  Scientists noted the whales exhibited a preference for one side or the other when practicing specific feeding maneuvers.  During “side rolls” (turning 90 degrees onto their side), most of the whales rolled to their right, identifying them as lefties.  During the “barrel roll” (rising from the depths and performing a 360-degree spin), the whales almost always rolled left, making them righties. Furthermore, those whales exhibiting a clear preference for right-sidedness could switch to lefty-driven barrel rolls, revealing an ambidextrous capacity.

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo from Wikipedia Commons

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